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Like a Carp on a Lawn

Graham Robb: Marie D’Agoult, 7 June 2001

The Life of Marie d'Agoult, Alias Daniel Stern 
by Phyllis Stock-Morton.
Johns Hopkins, 291 pp., £33, July 2000, 0 8018 6313 9
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Marie d’Agoult: The Rebel Countess 
by Richard Bolster.
Yale, 288 pp., £16.95, September 2000, 0 300 08246 0
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... famous because it seemed to recount her adventures with Liszt. Few people now have heard of it. As Richard Bolster and Stock-Morton both observe, her novels are as mediocre as most 19th-century romans à clé. According to Stock-Morton, a modern Marie d’Agoult would probably have visited a psychotherapist instead of writing fiction. No one should ...

Fear the fairies

John Gallagher: Early Modern Sleepe, 18 May 2017

Sleep in Early Modern England 
by Sasha Handley.
Yale, 280 pp., £25, August 2016, 978 0 300 22039 1
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... Of the thousands​ of people who visited the Buckinghamshire astrologer-physician and clergyman Richard Napier around the beginning of the 17th century, many were troubled by questions of sleep. The mother of 11-year-old Susan Blundell told Napier that her daughter was ‘now given mutch to sleeping’, and that two days before, she had slept ‘the space of 24 houres but that her sleepe was interrupted with her usuall fites & that very often ...

Japanese Power

Richard Bowring, 14 June 1990

God’s Dust: A Modern Asian Journey 
by Ian Buruma.
Cape, 267 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 224 02493 0
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol V: The 19th Century 
edited by Marius Jansen.
Cambridge, 828 pp., £60, October 1989, 0 521 22356 3
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The Cambridge History of Japan. Vol. VI: The 20th Century 
edited by Peter Duus.
Cambridge, 866 pp., £60, June 1989, 0 521 22357 1
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... Nakasone just before he left office, is in fact a right-wing cultural think-tank whose role is to bolster Japan’s sense of its own uniqueness. It is true that the head of the new Center, Umehara Takeshi, has some extraordinarily silly ideas about the dim and distant past when the Japanese were pure and innocent. This romanticism cannot possibly stand up to ...

President François Misprint

Richard Mayne, 1 April 1983

The Wheat and the Chaff: The Personal Diaries of the President of France 1971-1978 
by François Mitterrand, translated by Richard Woodward, Helen Lane and Concilia Hayter.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 297 78101 4
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The French 
by Theodore Zeldin.
Collins, 542 pp., £12.95, January 1983, 0 00 216806 5
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... sights above following in the footsteps of those who have made good. Which means that they often bolster up dying values just when the disenchanted bourgeoisie is losing faith.’ ‘Traditional culture is certainly still cherished by those who value respectability.’ ‘Some intellectuals, transformed into experts, find it difficult to accept that everyone ...

The Old Corrector

Richard Altick, 4 November 1982

Fortune and Men’s Eyes: The Career of John Payne Collier 
by Dewey Ganzel.
Oxford, 454 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 212231 2
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... 83 ballads in a manuscript commonplace book he owned. Ganzel vigorously disputes the charge.) To bolster their case, Madden and Ingleby sought to prove that the fateful emendations had not been in the Perkins Folio when it left Rodd’s hands. An unexpected witness for the defence, no less a personage than the Principal of New College, Oxford, asserted in a ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... one of the most familiar scenes from the life of Wilde: the bad moment outside Swan and Edgar’s. Richard Ellmann’s biography says that, as Wilde caught sight of ‘the painted boys on the pavement’ outside the department store, he was struck by an overwhelming sense of catastrophe. Holland traces the story back to 1930 and to Ada Leverson, who – he ...
The Dons 
by Noël Annan.
HarperCollins, 357 pp., £17.99, November 1999, 0 00 257074 2
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A Man of Contradictions: A Life of A.L.Rowse 
by Richard Ollard.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 7139 9353 7
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... of Bowra. But it is the Order of Merit that bulks ever larger, as it does also in Richard Ollard’s biography of A.L. Rowse, A Man of Contradictions. Rowse appears never to have got over the OM awarded to Veronica Wedgwood: ‘ “My OM!” as he grew, with resentful jealousy, accustomed to exclaim.’ Annan, too, scrutinises its ...

Out of the Ossuary

Michael Neill: Shakespeare and Emotion, 14 July 2016

The Reformation of Emotions in the Age of Shakespeare 
by Steven Mullaney.
Chicago, 231 pp., £24.50, July 2015, 978 0 226 11709 6
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... to a French princess, with its rhetoric of historical effacement; on the other, the scene of Richard III’s nightmares at Bosworth, in which the past erupts to confound its own erasure. For Mullaney it is Talbot, the betrayed martial hero of Henry VI Part I, who stands for what is systematically forgotten in the remainder of the cycle: his, after ...

Let’s eat badly

William Davies: Irrationality and its Other, 5 December 2019

Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason 
by Justin E.H. Smith.
Princeton, 344 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 0 691 17867 7
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... the only ones hungry for these insights. The popularisation of behavioural economics was led by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge (2008), which inspired the setting-up of ‘behavioural insights’ teams in governments around the world (with Cameron’s coalition government at the forefront), and has nurtured a view of policy that is attentive ...

After Mubarak

Adam Shatz, 17 February 2011

... had to be erected to disguise the nature of Mubarak’s regime, and press accounts seemed to bolster it. Reading Western – particularly American – newspapers before the recent crackdown, one would hardly have known the degree of discontent in Egypt. Mubarak was typically described as an ‘authoritarian’ but ‘moderate’ and ...

Joyce and Company

Tim Parks: Joyce’s Home Life, 5 July 2012

James Joyce: A Biography 
by Gordon Bowker.
Phoenix, 608 pp., £14.99, March 2012, 978 0 7538 2860 1
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... this or that physical attribute, or name, or occupation, or address. Readers familiar with Richard Ellmann’s biography of 1959 will be disappointed. Born in 1882, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was the first surviving child of John and May Joyce, whose recent marriage had been fiercely opposed by both sets of parents. Their first baby, named after ...

Nothing They Wouldn’t Do

Richard J. Evans: Krupp, 21 June 2012

Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm 
by Harold James.
Princeton, 360 pp., £24.95, March 2012, 978 0 691 15340 7
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... This was part of a wider American policy of forgive and forget, given the perceived need to bolster West German morale in the face of the communist threat from the East. The recovery of the economy trumped the fading desire to settle accounts with war criminals. Like many other German businesses, Krupp adapted seamlessly to the new world of the ...

Hew their bones in sunder

Eamon Duffy: Lancelot Andrewes, 3 August 2006

Lancelot Andrewes: Selected Sermons and Lectures 
edited by Peter McCullough.
Oxford, 491 pp., £90, November 2005, 0 19 818774 2
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... For Eliot, as for many Anglo-Catholics, Andrewes was an iconic ancestor figure. Along with Richard Hooker, George Herbert and William Laud, this ‘right reverend Father in God’ seemed to embody Catholic continuity and spiritual moderation. The English Church, these men believed, had maintained amid all the upheavals of the Protestant reformation a ...

Who was the enemy?

Bernard Porter: Gallipoli, 21 May 2015

Gallipoli 
by Alan Moorehead.
Aurum, 384 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78131 406 7
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Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story 
by Arthur Beecroft.
Robert Hale, 176 pp., £12.99, March 2015, 978 0 7198 1654 3
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Gallipoli 1915 
by Joseph Murray.
Silvertail, 210 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 909269 11 8
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Gallipoli: The Dardanelles Disaster in Soldiers’ Words and Photographs 
by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers.
Bloomsbury, 344 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 4088 5615 4
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... the Aegean and the Sea of Marmara, get to Constantinople, detach the Turks from the Germans, bolster the Russians and shorten the war by two years. It has been suggested that had it been successful it might even have forestalled the Bolshevik Revolution. Wasn’t all that worth a gamble? In the end it failed miserably, with enormous losses on both ...

Soul to Soul

Ian Buruma, 19 February 1987

The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness 
by Peter Dale.
Croom Helm, 233 pp., £25, September 1987, 0 7099 0899 7
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... which parades through the literature of the 18th century’. That European models often served to bolster nationalist ideas of uniqueness in the early stages of modernisation is not as strange as it may seem. Just as a mythical past with its ancient Japanese spirit was conjured up in the Meiji period to legitimise the transformation of a traditional feudal ...

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